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Local organization looking for senior companions in West Michigan

Jessica Wheeler sat down with a pair of senior companions to talk about how their friendship has changed their lives.

KALAMAZOO & CALHOUN COUNTIES, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A local organization for seniors is asking for help providing companions for seniors in West Michigan.

Right now Southwest Michigan Senior Services has a wait list of seniors in both Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties who are looking for someone to give them a little company and help getting around.

There are very specific qualifications for the positions, but they are hoping to find some special people who also might be in need of a companion and pair them up together.

Ida Mae Lockett and Lyn Harn spend many afternoons keeping each other company.

"I've been alone for a long time,” said senior services client, Ida Mae Lockett.

After more than 40 years of living by herself, Ida Mae reached out for help and found Lyn though the companion program at Southwest Michigan Senior Services.

"It's a really great opportunity for them to meet a whole lot of new friends, and to stay busy and have a reason to get up every morning," said Karen Betley, the Senior Companion Program Director, at Southwest Michigan Senior Services.

Betley is looking for more people like Lyn.

The program recently expanded to Calhoun County and she has no volunteers there so far.

So she's putting a call out for those 55 years old and older who can spend about 15 hours a week with seniors in need.

"They'll do things like friendly visits, they might play cards, or even just watch TV together, go out to lunch, or they might take them grocery shopping, they might take them to a medical appointment,” said Betley.

For Lyn, spending time with Ida Mae has given her a purpose once again.

"It's just one of the best things I've ever been involved in. It's improved my life. I feel like I have purpose now. My husband passed away, so yeah, I'm busy and I'm helping people. Making them happy,” said Lyn Harn, Senior Companion.

And the 2 have quickly become more than just companions.

"It's a win-win situation. We enjoy each other. We're friends now,” said Harn.

There are some guidelines to be a companion. You have to be 55 years and older and spend about 15 hours a week with a local senior. There are also income requirements. Companions do make a small amount of money via stipend.

If you are interested in joining, click here.

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